A sense of déjà vu abounded during the last stage of the Tour of California on Sunday in Thousand Oaks.
Britain’s Bradley Wiggins, who had led the overall race since the time trial on the second day and held a 30 second lead going into the final stage, rode away with the yellow jersey for the overall win.
The 2012 Tour de France winner put in a solid performance, finishing 20th in the stage, to secure the overall win with a time of 28:22:05. Australian Rohan Dennis was 30 seconds behind for second overall and young Texan Lawson Craddock was third with 28:23:53.
“It wasn’t over until we crossed the line,” said Wiggins, of team Sky. “It was a quite challenging circuit, we had to keep our wits about us.”
There were other familiar scenes on the final stage of the 720-mile, eight-day race.
Much like the first day, the final stage came down to a sprint between Mark Cavendish, Peter Sagan and John Degenkolb. And, just like the first stage, when Cavendish edged out Degenkolb by a tire’s width, the sprinter known as the Manx Missile again beat Degenkolb by inches.
The finish on Sunday was so close that Cavendish joked after the race that he didn’t even want to see the replay.
His win was made more impressive when the British rider said he started the day so far behind in the general classification that he thought he'd be dropped after the first lap. He only ate a light breakfast, thinking he'd try to get in one lap in preparation for the rest of the season.
'I wasn't going to start today, let alone finish,' said Cavendish. But he said he felt good after the second of three climbs and decided then to go for the win.
“I thought I’d give it a shot,” said Cavendish, who rides for Omega Pharma-Quick Step. “I like racing. I don’t like starting a race and not finishing it.”
The riders enjoyed 70-degree weather throughout the final leg of the race, a welcome change after several 100-degree days.
Canadian Will Routley of Optum Pro Cycling took home the King of the Mountain jersey. He won the polka dot jersey on the first stage and held on to it throughout the competition.
Slovakia’s Sagan, riding for Cannondale, took home the Sprint Leader jersey for the fifth year in a row. Cavendish and Degenkolb came in second and third, respectively, in the sprint points race. Sagan’s stage win Saturday in Pasadena was his 11th at the Tour of California, a race record.
The race also showcased some of the sport’s young riders. Dennis and Craddock, the second and third-place finishers, are under 25. Craddock, 22, won the race’s Best Young Rider award, for riders born January 1992 or after.
“You look at the top five here, it really bodes well for the future of the sport,” said Craddock, who rides for Giant-Shimano.
Garmin-Sharp, whose riders include Dennis, Janier Acevedo and Americans Ben King, Tom Danielson and Phil Gaimon, won the team competition.